By Olubunmi Adeniyi
Lagos. October 12, 2012: U.S. technology giant and world’s largest chipmaker, Intel Corporation, says that Nigeria is on path of growing its current PC penetration from current estimation of 3 per cent to 10 per cent by 2015 buoyed by initiatives underway to promote affordable computer ownership in the country.
Olubunmi Ekundare, Nigeria Country Manager, Intel told Technology Times in an exclusive interview in Lagos that various public and private sector programmes being undertaken in the country that bolster hope of improvement in the current low national PC penetration.
“From the current 3 per cent PC penetration in Nigeria, we are hoping that between now and 2015, we can increase our penetration to 10 per cent”, he says.
Intel commends the government for creating the new Ministry of Communication Technology noting that the supervisory Ministry for the overall ICT sector was already taking steps that bodes well for the future of technology growth in Nigeria.
“The moment people get really sensitised, I think we can achieve the goal. For example, if anybody had told us that MTN will have 46 million subscribers in Nigeria today, probably we would have asked, how could that happen? But again, as technology penetrates, prices come down and more people can have access. We see that happening even in broadband and PC penetration”, the Intel executive adds.
Intel, which was also a key driver of Computer for All Nigerians Initiative (CANI) unveiled during the administration of ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo to promote PC ownership, says the programme in retrospect was “a learning process” for the company.
According to Ekundare who compares CANI with the new PC Ownership initiative being championed by the Ministry of Communications Technology says that, “CANI was a successful programme. It was also a learning process. I can compare what CANI was with what we are trying to do. We had the idea and the government also felt there was need to increase penetration in terms of the use of ICT tools.”
He notes that one of the major issues that confronted CANI was that people expected government to buy the computers for them while noting that under the current dispensation, “Nigerians have already moved from that thought that government should do everything for them.”
According to him, “what we are doing today is, we are saying to the end users themselves, you need to invest in your future. You need to create that future for yourself. And in creating that future, there must be some investments that you yourself will put in as part of your own contribution to create a better life for yourself.”
He adds that, “when you look at both programmes, they have quite a bit of different perspectives, but with the same focus that CANI had to increase PC penetration. We have come a long way from then. Today, a lot of government agencies, universities and companies have websites.”
For the Intel executive, CANI was ahead of its time when the Federal Government came up with the idea because the infrastructure for the PC ownership programme to achieve its mission then was largely absent.
“The infrastructure base was really necessary for CANI to achieve what it was supposed to achieve then. Today, you want to seat for JAMB, you have to go online. If you don’t, you won’t be able to register,” he adds underscoring that a lot of developments have happened since happened after CANI.
“Today, having a PC without Internet connectivity does not make sense because it’s like having a car without fuel in it. But back in 2006, a lot of telecoms companies were just coming up as the investment in the telecoms industry was beginning to firm up in the country.”
According to Ekundare, “I know we started in 1999. But it took us up to mid-2001 before prices started coming down and it became more affordable for an average Nigerian to own a phone. It is the same thing we are trying to do in the PC area. We are trying to make PC cheaper for the average Nigerian to be able to afford one.”